Just for Fun. . .
Torn between two
10 May 2005
Janet and I take our responsibilities as parents
very seriously. As a half-Irishman, I have two distinct
responsibilities, one to honor my families Colonial American
traditions and my dual responsibility to pass-on the ancient Irish
I’m a half-breed, torn between two worlds, and
neither group accepts me!
Even though I took my kids to an
Irish Gaeltacht community so they could learn to speak a few
Gaelic phrases and understand their Celtic roots, I’m still a just a
“Yank” to them. Same thing with my North Carolina extended family,
who considers me an “honorary” Southerner because my Mother was
European. . . .
Even though we grew-up with guns everywhere,
Janet and I were “modern” parents, and we disposed of our guns when
the kids came along. We really thought that we were doing the right
thing at the time, but alas, my extended family does not agree. . .
Awhile back we were visiting with Cousin Hazel
when her son Todd came-in carrying a freshly killed raccoon. Todd
was grinning ear-to-ear and he could hardly contain his pride as he
slapped him down on the table before us, the coon’s glassy eyes
looking up at me and his long tongue draped on the tablecloth.
“He’s a beauty, huh? I nailed him at the
dump while he was eatin’ a dirty diaper”.
Now I’m well-briefed on Emily Post etiquette,
so I replied. “Yup, he’s a good-un. Nice heavy pelt and you got
a great head-shot. He’ll make a fine coonskin cap.”
agreed and later skinned his hide for a "Daniel Boone" cap, with is
a misnomer since Dan Boone despised coonskin caps:
"My father, Daniel Boone, always
despised the raccoon fur caps and did not wear one himself,
as he always had a hat." --
By the way, our great
(7th) grandpa, Aaron Burleson was a good friend of
Boone (Daniel Boone’s parents are buried right up the road)
and Aaron Burleson helped him open-up the Cumberland Gap to
Aaron was later
killed in an Indian ambush by some Natives who disagreed that
opening up the frontier was such a good idea. They found his
bloated corpse months later in a creek, riddled with arrow holes.
Back in the 1700’s, the Indians had a huge advantage because the
flintlocks of the day took 20-seconds to reload, and a quiver of
arrows was far more effective in a skirmish.
Anyhow, Todd was wearing a Model 1911 Army
pistol and we took it out for a test-drive.
That’s when the trouble started.
Todd lined-up some
Cheerwine bottles (A
North Carolina Original) and
we stepped back about 30 yards. I quickly dispatched three bottles
in rapid succession (the .45 automatic is my favorite handgun)
and then it was my kids turn. My son was eager but he
only hit one bottle, and when it was my daughters turn, she wined
“Ewww”, and refused to fire it, saying that she was afraid of
the hefty recoil. I got embarrassed and I yelled at her “Fire
Her hands shook, her eyes welled-up with tears,
and she dropped this pistol and ran into the house crying. I was
deeply ashamed and embarrassed of my pansy daughter, but I knew that
it was my fault.
Hazel shot me that “evil look” that she
reserved for child molesters, rude Yankees, and parents who never
taught their kids to handle firearms.
I was in a heap-o-trouble, and I knew it.
Cousin Hazel hid her disgust (she is a nurse)
and she gently reminded me that proficiency with guns is a Burleson
tradition dating back for centuries. (Even though my Dad was
crippled, we had over 50 guns in the house and I was well-versed in
Dad was a crack shot and he won the Air Medal in
WWII when he shot-down six Japanese “Zero’s” during a single B-17
mission from Australia.)
Now, I knew that word would get-around about my
failings as a parent (I’m related to half the folks in the
Albemarle area), so I swore a Solemn Oath to Hazel that I would
correct my kids deficiencies if she kept her mouth shut about our
I kept my promise and we became regulars at the
local shooting gallery where the kids got NRA safety training and a
chance to shoot dozens of types of handguns, from derringers to
I started my daughter on a ladies .22 cal. Pistol
with a laser sight, and I worked patiently with her, working-her-up
to the long-barreled .357 Magnum used by Clint Eastwood in the
“Dirty Harry” movies. She still prefers the smaller calibers, but
at least she knows that you must get a clean head-shot to stop an
By the way, Cousin Hazel has her eye
on this adorable ladies six-shot derringer for my daughters 21st
birthday. It’s chrome and has six color-coordinated pistol grips,
and you can change them to match your outfit. It’s the perfect
accessory for the fashionable young woman!
My next step was teaching the kids about
rifles. My bad vision has always hampered my aim and I never
mastered the critical skills of “Kentucky Windage” and “leading” a
Now, finding professional help is not hard in
Kittrell, North Carolina. One of my trainers’ husbands is a SWAT
sniper for the Federal government, and right up-the-road is Carl, a
retired Secret Service sniper with a reputation as a crack-shot.
Because it’s unethical to impose on employees, Carl was our only
hope of salvation.
Carl has won several world-championships, and
he can hit a six-inch pattern at 1,500 yards (almost a mile away
where you can barely see the person with the naked eye). Carl
charges way-more per-hour than I do, and I was concerned that I
could not afford him so we decided to share our shameful secret and
hope that he would understand. He heard our tale-of-woe and took
pity on us, offering to take some time to show my kids how to shoot
Carl and I have convinced the kids that the
ability to kill someone from a mile-away is a very valuable
life-skill and Carl has even got my son to thinking about applying
to the FBI Academy after he finishes his PhD. Yeah!
Anyway, we’re deeply grateful that Hazel and
Carl have come to our aid.
By golly, nobody is ever going to accuse me and
Janet of being bad parents. . . .